Paid content

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With paid content ( dt. Paid content ) of the fee-based electronic is distribution and trading of digital content ( content ) in purely digital media indicated.

Examples of digital media are e.g. B. the World Wide Web (WWW) or mobile / cell phone media ( apps , SMS , WAP, cell phone logos, ring tones). With regard to paid content and paid services, different output media, such as PCs , cell phones , or PDAs, etc. can be used. Paid content must be distinguished from paid services .

An essential difference between paid content and paid services lies in the interaction of the customer. If a product is downloaded once for a fee, it is called paid content. The customer thus calls up digital goods that can be understood as delivered products . Paid content is to be combined primarily in connection with newspaper articles (see Paywall ) and the download of music. Online auctions, the trading platform as such, is z. B. a paid service that can be used for a fee. All usage takes place online and user interaction is given. However, the auctioned goods are not to be regarded as paid content, as they are, in turn, purchased, physical goods. Paid services thus represent delivered services . Paid content is an immaterial real asset.


In addition to online advertising , sponsorship and the sale of material goods, paid content is another way of refinancing websites and thus in particular online content from publishers. The hosting , creation and maintenance of websites result in high costs for the operator, which in many cases cannot be covered by the classic refinancing options.

Areas of application

Paid content is currently experiencing increased use, especially in the field of publishing, with varying degrees of success. The music industry also takes advantage of the offer of digital goods for a fee. In Germany, earnings to date have not yet reached the desired level in many industries. Especially in the private sector, users are even less willing to pay for content on the Internet. Paid content is enjoying increasing popularity for professional training, i.e. in the business-to-business sector.

Acceptance in Germany

The main problem for the enforcement of paid content lies mainly in a still low customer acceptance .

The following cycle has long been maintained by website providers. Websites should primarily fund themselves through advertising revenue. In order to win advertisers for his site, however, corresponding user numbers had to be shown. In order to achieve this in turn, the provider had to publish high-quality or exclusive content. According to this, customers are still used to receiving high quality content for free. This is how the attitude of Internet users , which is often referred to as the free mentality , came about. In addition, many customers argue that journalistic offers, for example, are almost free in the "print world". Here only the additional costs for z. B. paid for the printing and the paper. In addition, it is not possible or hardly justifiable to subsequently make free offers subject to charges. Especially not if the competition continues to offer similar content for free.

In the meantime, the media are moving away from this stance and not without reason: According to the regularly conducted survey (W3b) by "Fittkau & Maaß" in June 2013, almost 50 percent of German Internet users are willing to pay for content online. Paid content is also being used by more and more daily newspapers. The Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) currently has 103 titles that have paid models on their websites. In the magazine sector, Stiftung Warentest has been offering paid tests on its portal since 2000. There are experiments with paid content e.g. B. also at Focus -Online with Google One Pass . Recently, there has been an increasing number of studies showing an increasing willingness to pay for digital press products. For the end of 2014, the market volume for digital paid products in German newspapers and magazines is estimated at € 190 million per year.


In order to successfully introduce paid content, some aspects should be considered and taken into account during product development. Based on Fehr (2003), the following aspects emerge in abbreviated form:

  • The competitive situation: If the direct competition offers similar or the same content free of charge, this can be the first hurdle for offering paid content on your own site.

Nevertheless, the customer may not show the willingness to look for a free competing product first, as the time required e.g. B. seems too high.

  • Individual added value for the customer: The pricing of content should be understandable for the customer and should only be limited to new features or innovations that offer the customer added value or advantage.
  • Use of current standards: It is advantageous to use the current standards of the Internet medium for your offer. These are e.g. B. the topicality, interactivity and availability.
  • Pricing: When pricing products or content, it is always advantageous to have your own statistical survey. Third-party surveys should only be used as a guide at this point.
  • The billing model : The most widespread are pay-per-use , pay-per-click , point accounts , classic subscriptions or special packages ('bundles').
  • The payment options: Various surveys show that payment cancellations occur most frequently because customers found the payment process too complicated, too time-consuming or too insecure. See also micropayment .

Alternative: social payment

An alternative to classic paid content are models of so-called social payment via services such as Flattr , sometimes also via PayPal . The user still has the option of consuming the goods in question free of charge, but is asked to give them up voluntarily. Social payment systems are still in their infancy, but they are a growing phenomenon that is heavily discussed in the media industry and the blogosphere .


  • Nielsen Media: Changing Models: A Global Perspective on Paying for Content Online . 2010. (PDF file)
  • Florian Stahl: Paid Content: Strategies for pricing in electronic trading with digital content . Deutscher Universitätsverlag, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-8350-0045-4 .
  • Michael Müssig, Mirjam Streit: Paid Content : Paid content and services on the web . Josef Eul Verlag, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-89936-185-7 .
  • Nina Kahnwald, Michael Sarbacher, Thomas Schildhauer: Active content interfaces, paid content and integrated business models. Businessvillage, 2005, ISBN 3-934424-02-3 .
  • Hannes Fehr: Selling paid content successfully. A guide to creating an individual concept for selling digital content on online portals . Hansebuch Verlag, Hamburg / Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-934880-09-6 .
  • Markus Hofmann: Paid Content and Paid Services Basics Success factors Perspectives . VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-86550-079-X .

Individual evidence

  1. Axel Springer relies on paid content - paid content soon in "Welt" and "Bild". In: from September 12, 2012
  2. ↑ Willingness to pay for music and films on the Internet. Association of Private Broadcasting and Telemedia e. V. (VPRT), June 10, 2013, accessed November 25, 2013.
  3. ^ Paid content offers from German newspapers. ( Memento of December 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) BDZV, accessed on February 6, 2014.
  4. Pascal Herbert: Google announces the launch of One Pass. In: GoogleWatchBlog . February 16, 2011, accessed November 25, 2013.
  5. 190 million € annual sales with paid content in Germany.